Scholarly article on topic 'Family and School – Partners or Rivals?'

Family and School – Partners or Rivals? Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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Abstract of research paper on Sociology, author of scientific article — Yveta Pecháčková, Gabriela Kabešová, Karolína Kuzdasová, Hana Vítková

Abstract The article presents selected results of research in inter-relationships between parents and teachers in primary schools. The research was conducted in connection to an already realized project (Pecháčková et al., 2011) whose aim was to describe the existing forms of cooperation between school and family. The research was made in order to find out the expectations of teachers and parents and to what extent they vary from one another. 44 parents and 16 teachers were involved in the research. Semi-structured interviews were held with both respondent groups and the acquired statements were subsequently coded and analyzed. The article primarily presents parentś attitudes to teachers, school and secondly, the teacherś attitudes to parents.

Academic research paper on topic "Family and School – Partners or Rivals?"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 112 (2014) 757 - 763

International Conference on Education & Educational Psychology 2013 (ICEEPSY 2013)

Family and school - partners or rivals?

Yveta Pechäckoväa*, Gabriela Kabesoväa, Karolina Kuzdasoväa, Hana Vitkoväa

aDepartment of Primary and Pre-Primary Education, University of Hradec Krälove, Rokitanskeho 62, Hradec Krälove 500 03, Czech

Republic

Abstract

The article presents selected results of research in inter-relationships between parents and teachers in primary schools. The research was conducted in connection to an already realized project (Pechackova et al., 2011) whose aim was to describe the existing forms of cooperation between school and family. The research was made in order to find out the expectations of teachers and parents and to what extent they vary from one another. 44 parents and 16 teachers were involved in the research. Semi-structured interviews were held with both respondent groups and the acquired statements were subsequently coded and analyzed. The article primarily presents parents' attitudes to teachers, school and secondly, the teachers' attitudes to parents.

© 2013TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.

Selectionandpeer-reviewunderresponsibility of Cognitive-counselling,research and conference services (c-crcs). Keywords: expectations, relationships, attitudes, communication, co-operation, partnership

1. Introduction

School and family work as systems which are governed by law, rules, relationships and standards. Out of these systems there should be issued a certain intervention so that above mentioned regularities could be respected and preserved.

A good relationship is not obvious it is built upon a friendly communication, certain requirements and leads towards successful cooperation and participation. The participation is being developer in accordance with the view at development of education within a society. The issue of family cooperation and school in the world is

* Corresponding author. Yveta Pechackova. Tel.: +4-204-933-31369; fax: +4-204-933-1313. E-mail address: yveta.pechackova@uhk.cz

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Cognitive-counselling, research and conference services (c-crcs). doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1227

often a discussed issue. Christenson and Sheridan (2001) on base of their research pointed out the fact that climate of school can support or tie down family relationship and they have examined the effect of approaches and attitudes of teachers towards parents. In an extensive study J. L. Epstein (2010) focused mainly on building of relationships between school and family.

The research which took place at the Faculty of Education University of Hradec Kralove (Pechácková et al, 2011) investigated an existing form of cooperation at primary schools in the Czech Republic and opened a wide range of further questions: What relationship do parents have towards school? What type of school do parents want? What do teachers want from parents? Is there an agreement on a division of basic tasks of school and family? The answers onto these questions have been gained by qualitative investigation which helped us to penetrate deeper into relationships and context.

2. Method

2.1. The research aims

The research survey was aimed at primary schools where due to the beginning of education and curriculum content, there is a closer link between teachers and the pupils' parents. The main objective was to find out what parents want from schools and what teachers want from parents. Furthermore, we used research questions to investigate what relationship parents have towards school, what school they want and what teachers consider as crucial for the success of their work. The results helped to state in what parents and teachers agree, and also what they disagree on.

2.2. The research methodology

To meet the objectives of the project a semi-structured interview was chosen as a significant tool, which can be defined as non-standardized interviewing of one research participant by one researcher, using a pre-established list of open questions (Svaricek, Sed'ová, 2007, p 159). Semi-structured interview allows for deeper penetration into the research environment, and therefore it seemed to us as appropriate to identify relationships.

We focused on the first stage of primary school. In order to gain insight into their relationship, it was necessary to obtain the responses of both parties. Therefore, we created two types of semi-structured interviews of our own design, one for parents who have children at primary school, and the second one for primary school teachers. Sections in the parents' interview were made by open-ended questions and were divided into four thematic areas: school, teacher, child and co-operation. There were also no less important identification sections. The interview for teachers was also formed by open-ended questions and in addition to identification questions it contained three thematic areas related to the profession, parents and co-operation. The interview for parents contained a total of 18 sections and the interview for teachers 12 sections. The research survey was therefore based on semi-structured interviews with parents and teachers. In order to achieve the highest number of respondents, three researchers were involved in the interviews, all interviews were recorded and subsequently transcribed. The person who led the interviews also transcribed them, in order to achieve maximum consistency. It was followed by open coding of the data and grouping into categories, then a descriptive and comparative analysis.

2.3. The research group

The research group consisted of the parents of students and teachers (from the 1st grade of primary school in the Czech Republic). Due to the time-consuming method, only 44 parents and 16 teachers were contacted. In our previous research, which investigated the implemented forms of co-operation between school and family, we

were obtaining information from the ranks of teachers, so now were focusing our attention more on the parents. The sample of parents consisted of 32 women and 12 men (table 1). From the total of 44 parents, 21 had a secondary education degree, 14 had a university degree, 3 respondents were graduates of colleges and the remaining 6 had apprenticeships. We can therefore say that the group of parents for the most part represented the middle class. From the group of 16 teachers (only women were in the sample), four teachers didn't have the appropriate qualifications and the number of years practice ranged mostly from 10 years to 16 years. The minimum period of practice was four years and the longest 31 years. It was a deliberate choice made with regard to the nature of the research.

Table 1. Research group

Sex Parents Teachers

Women 32 16

Men 12 0

Total 44 16

3. Selected results of the research Results

Parents perceive school primarily as an educational institution. Most parents said that the main focus of school is education (25), five believes that in addition to education, it is also upbringing, and six parents see as the main content of school as preparation for further education. The remaining parents testified that the main focus of school is to raise a decent person (3), preparation for life (2) and one response was integration into a team, to teach child self-confidence, to teach them to think and communicate, collaborate and get along together. The results correspond to the traditional perception of primary school and its key education function, while family is attributed to the educational priority role.

What do parents expect from schools? In addition to educating children (17), the same number of parents expect that a child will be happy at school, at ease and will be happy to attend (17). Similar are the conclusions of the research carried out by Walterová et al. (2010), where according to parents, children should look forward to school and should gain sufficient knowledge. Other responses were such as: greater awareness, individual and professional approach, co-operation, helpfulness, sufficient motivation, tolerant and communicating teacher, the willingness to pay attention to a child, fairness. Some illustrating answers: "For a child doing well in school and the form of teaching was interesting for them." ... "I expect them to take care of the children there while I'm at work and also to teach them something." ... "That a child will like it at school, that I will not be burdened with clutter and that a child learns not only the curriculum but also to think independently, collaborate and communicate in a group." ..."That they equip my daughter with knowledge as well as experience. That she knows what she should and will be prepared for the next school." ... "From school I expect a professional approach in all areas and an individual approach to my child."... "I want my son to feel good there, so the curriculum that he doesn't always like, is taught in a way that he doesn't mind learning it. To have friends, to have some position in his class, so he isn't hurt."

What teachers expect from parents? For most of teachers we approached, the ideal parent is a co-operative and communicative parent (10). According to the response of parents, a co-operative parent is a parent who checks and signs homework, supervises the preparation, checks equipment of a child, etc., which is another type of cooperation from that seen in the legislative documents. If the teachers assess collaboration in their classes, then an unco-operative parent is the one that doesn't check, doesn't sign and doesn't participate in the preparation of a

child for school. Some teachers expect parents to helpful, understanding, support and recognize their authority:

"Friendly, helpful, understanding, not creating arguments, with a sense of humour." ...."A parent that can honestly assess the ability of child" ... "doesn't doubt a teacher's decision in front of a child." ... "Who supports a teacher, provides justified criticism and will co-operate." ..."Does not have problem communicating. Keeps promises." ..."Is a pillar of school education." The requirements of teachers most often lead to co-operation, which they see as a welcome and necessary assistance. Co-operation in school events would be welcomed by only two teachers.

What do parents think that school expects from them? Parents testified that school probably primarily expects from them supervision over the preparation of child for school. 24 parents replied so. They also assume that school expects co-operation (17). Illustrating example: "That will do homework that my daughter will have the equipment she should have, that I read the weekly schedule and meet the requirements in it. That I participate in class meetings and that I will be on the teacher's side." The prerequisites of parents agree with what the majority of teachers in our research expect from the parents. As mentioned above, the supervision over preparation to school is welcome co-operation, which teachers expect from parents.

What do teachers think that parents expect from school? Teachers responded that the parents probably expect child's education (5), preparation for grammar school (4) and other responses in different versions represented a kind of "full" service without the involvement of the parents themselves. For example: "That we bring them up, teach them, prepare them for life, and that they do not have to get involved." ... "Warmth and facilities, especially in winter. Like a Provident Institute" ... "That school does all the work for them."..."They expect too much. Not just education, but also babysitting from morning till evening."... "That school is all-powerful." These responses suggest that these teachers are not satisfied with the ideas or claims of their pupils' parents in relation to school, and that they might have wished "more sensible" parents, or they simply lack parental support. To a lesser extent, there were also other types of responses: "Responsiveness, decent conduct with a child and open communication."... "Individual approach, maximum effort." ... "First of all a positive relationship with a child"

When asked whether parents know the curriculum of the school, where their child attends, only 12 of them answered yes, three of them work at school. Parents answered as follows: "I know it, I was given the opportunity to have a look at it." ... "Yes, it follows the concerns of the school - language school" ... "Yes, due to the fact that I work at this school as an assistant." In addition, 32 respondents said they do not know the school educational program, from those 7 parents know that the program is on the school website, but they have not seen it yet. One respondent stated that they only slightly know the program. The parents' lack of interest is confirmed by these statements.: "I don't know, I have no idea" ...."I really don't have a clue. Should I? I don't really think I have to.".... "No, absolutely no idea." .... "No, I didn 't need it yet." ... "No, I know that school operates according to it, but myself I did not seek the opportunity to peak at it." Some parents seem to think that as good parents they should know the educational program of school, but they throw the "guilt" on school. This fact is illustrated for example by this: "No, I don't recall that it ever been mentioned at parents meetings". These results correspond with the traditionally low involvement of parents. The parents' priority is the educational attainment of children. If a child is good, there is no need for them to be more interested in the content of education. The parents of our research also do not need to change anything in school (22), only such as material equipment (5), multiple computers (3), fewer children in one class (4), not exchanging teachers (2). There were also responses such as: to replace some teachers, to change the director, to improve communication with teachers, more intensive lessons, to change the composition of subjects, longer breaks, to improve language teaching, bigger classrooms.

The question of whether the parents trust their child's teachers, the majority answered yes (33), then probably yes (4), not much (3), sometimes not (1). There also were three clearly negative responses. Example: "No. Why? Because my daughter has an individual plan and basically we are constantly fighting with it, I don't think it's going according to plan." It is followed by the answer of the mother of a high school daughter, who also states that she doesn't communicate much with her daughters teacher, doesn't do tasks with the child, the child is not happy at school and she doesn't attend class meetings or other activities: "No. We had an argument already in the

first class with the teacher due to addressing my son. My son personally hates her, the only reason he stays there just is his peers, his classmates also complained that she is mean." The parents mostly appreciate patience in teachers (14), access and love for a child (7), work commitment and enthusiasm (5), then they have discipline and respect (3), responsiveness (3). Other responses: experience, strictness, everything, impartiality, spontaneity, creativity, communication, confidence, professionalism, strong nerves.

Parents prefer personal communication with teacher (20), then also communication in classroom meetings (14), via the Internet (6). According to the responses office hours are used only by 4 respondents. Other responses were combined with personal communication, such as in writing, by telephone. One respondent replied that he doesn't communicate, which, according to our other information, it is related to the fact that he isn't satisfied with the teacher. Frequent personal meetings of parents with teachers at the primary school linked to the age of child, with the onset of institutional learning and with traditionally closer links in initial education. Mass classical class meetings are still an important form of co-operation, which has its tradition, but they cannot practically solve the problems of individual pupils, only classes, or school as a whole. Despite this, class meetings still perform certain functions. Individual meetings in the form of office hours offer new opportunities, especially significantly deeper and more substantial communication and work on the development of individual children. However only four respondents use the office hours. Fifteen parents responded that they do not participate in other activities organized by the school, 17 parents reported that they participate in activities such as: markets and festivals, sports competitions, theatre performances. The vast majority (39) of parents aren't involved in the internal activities of school, only three parents stated they were involved, two of which are on the school council and one respondent works as a school assistant. Other parents reported: „Idon 't know about anything"... "I don't know what it is"... "No need"... "There is no reason for it".

The most important information from teachers to parents are about marks and behaviour (23), benefits (12), all information (4), one respondent replied that he was only interested in information about behaviour (1). Furthermore, parents responded an interest in how their child works, their attitude to work and commitment. Examples: "I'm interested in globally everything related to my child. The results in learning, as well as the behaviour and dedication to learning in individual subjects."... "Certain results of my child, behaviour, and approach to work and other children, overall view of a child."

In the responses to the question of how the parents imagine the ideal teacher, the answers were not entirely consistent, but we can find several features that were occurring more frequently, such as: friendly, patient, fair, positive relationship with children, a sense of humour, creative intelligent, natural authority. Some of the answers were: "Open, honest, modest and above all fair." ... "The ideal teacher should be friendly, fair, tolerant to the individuality of a child, consistent, credible, natural authority, confident." ... "The ideal teacher? It is impossible. Probably smart, kind, nice, friendly, athletic, musical, artistic, historian, naturalist, geographer and I don't know what other subjects they have. BUT absolutely a perfect teacher doesn't exist. It wouldn 't be a human."... "Kind, gentle, helpful, same rules for everybody - fair, easily understood by children and by myself. A person who likes the job, not because work time finishes early. Enjoys working with children."..."is able to approach children individually." Fathers' replies: "Man who has human qualities. I think there aren't enough men in education. He should be reliable, fair, kind, action, intelligent."..."Nice, intelligent, fair and possesses a sense of humour. A teacher without a sense of humour is a nightmare for me." These statements according to the parents represent the sum of positive characteristics that an ideal teacher should have. On the one hand, parents want fair treatment and an equal and fair approach to all children, on the other hand, they often require an individual approach to their child. Parents do not express the professional competencies that matter to whether lessons will or will not be effective any further.

For teachers an ideal parent is a parent who co-operates, which is consistent with what they expect from parents: "It's a parent who is interested and active." ... "Works with us, communicates and offers assistance." ... "Supervises a child's preparation to school, is interested in their education." These statements are representative, because other teachers from our research described good parents in a similar way.

When asked whether their child is happy at school, the parents answered as follows: most of the parents surveyed said that their children are happy at school (28). Other answers were: yes, probably (11), I don't know (1). Two responses were negative, one undefined: "No, because of the teacher."... "This year, not so much, but unfortunately that's due to their class teacher and I can't do anything about that. Her teaching style does not quite fit us, but it certainly could be worse."... "Perhaps subconsciously yes." These responses are associated with distrust to the teacher, which arises from mutual misunderstanding and lack of communication on both

Most parents report that their child does not have problems at school (24). The respondents also answered as follows: we don't know of any problems (7), behaviour problems (6), problems with bullying (3), problems with the curriculum (2), integration into the class (2). Example of problem with behaviour: "Yeah, I remember that in the second grade at a school in the countryside there was a problem, he became a friend with a group of very active boys. Over two hours we were sorting it out at the parents meeting. Since then I have sent my wife to the meetings. I really don't have the patience to listen to it. It's just a kid, and when they do something they shouldn't, the teacher should give them some work as punishment, and not keep dragging it out for the next month." Three respondents reported that their child had a problem at school with bullying: "Unfortunately, we record bullying in the classroom as well as in school. It is being solved with the teacher, the parents of the children and also with the Head of the primary school. They increased supervision of troubled students as a primary measure. But fortunately it didn't concern our son."... "He had problems with bullying, we went to see the teacher, we consulted with her, the teacher solved it internally. I would suggest a completely different solution, I would give him a discipline penalty, but of course the kid didn't get it for bullying."... "With classmates - bullying. It was being solved ... they solved the problem well." One parent didn't state bullying, but problems with a classmate, which referred to the past: "In the third grade he had more problems with a classmate that I have dealt with his class teacher, and thanks to her professional approach after time everything was gradually got better." In Czech primary schools, according to the general public and parents (Walterová, 2010), socio-pathological phenomena are more frequent, including discipline problems and bullying. School is an environment in which children spend a lot of time and its social climate significantly affects the well-being of a student, and the ability to learn. If from the total number of 44 respondents three have already met with bullying in primary school, this means that the problem exists and cannot be underestimated.

When asked whether the parents engage in preparing for school together with their children, 32 parents said yes, usually longer than half an hour. Other responses: not daily, but if necessary - with the schedule (3), twice per week (3), no (3), they prepare themselves (2), sometimes (1). Parents essentially are not against homework, they realize its importance, but a third of the responses showed reservations concerning the intensity, adequacy, quantity and meaningfulness of the assigned tasks.

4. Conclusion

The research results show that parents don't see any obstacles in school and that they don't feel the need to change school. The results of other research shows that parents of the Czech Republic do not have the interest to influence a school, but they expect information about the learning outcomes of their children ((Rabusicova et al., 2004; Pechackova et al., 2012).

The only thing in which they would welcome a change is homework, which according to one-third of the parents should be proportionate, in terms of both content and time-consumption. Two thirds of parents from our research indicate that they participate in common preparation with their children for school every day for more than half an hour. The schools have changed in recent years in terms of methods, organization and content, which together with increased time-demands of employed parents result in decreasing the appetite of parents to be involved in home preparation. The most important information for parents are benefits and behaviour, but they

don't really feel the need to know the educational program of a school or wish to participate in various activities organized by the school.

On the other hand, teachers also don't expect parents' participation in school activities, but they expect collaboration in preparing their child for school, they see it as a necessary condition for the success of their work. According to the teachers from our research, an ideal parent is co-operative, communicative, interested in the education of their child. The best way to encourage parents to co-operate is personal communication, and personal communication is also the most often featured way of a parent meeting with teachers.

In conclusion we can say that the parents of our research have trust to teachers in most cases, and therefore, probably they don't consider it necessary to interfere with school activities. They do not need to change the school, they would just welcome fewer domestic responsibilities associated with school, even if they correctly assume that teachers expect the supervision from them on school preparation regarding their child.

The research findings will serve as a basis for innovation of contents of the co-operation with parents in primary education.

Acknowledgements

This paper was supported by the Specific research of Faculty of Education of University Hradec Kralove number 2109 titled: Family and School - Partners or Rivals?

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